Ask the grumpies: What icebreakers do you use?

Leah asks:

What icebreakers do you like to use when getting to know a group/class?

#1:  I make them exchange contact information (of any kind– doesn’t have to be a phone number or email address– just someway to get in contact about class work) with at least 2 other people.  That’s about it.  Lately that has led to them all signing up to the same groupme. (I don’t understand why they don’t use blackboard but they’ll use groupme or email me personally.  Like… what is it about only having your message seen by EITHER your fellow classmates OR your professor, but not both at the same time?  I really don’t get it.  But I digress.)

#2:  F* icebreakers. Hahaha I never have to teach againnnnnnnn

What icebreakers does the grumpy nation recommend?

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11 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: What icebreakers do you use?”

  1. Susan Says:

    I either ask them to say their spirit animal (good for a laugh) or something interesting/unique about themselves. I like the idea of exchanging contact info. My students also do a groupme but there are always a student or two that aren’t on it. We do a lot of field trips so I do have students give me a cell number & I post for the class.

    • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

      That seems a little disrespectful of Native Americans and others for whom a “spirit animal” is a serious part of their religion.

      My classes are too large for students to introduce themselves, but they do have to form 10 different partner pairings over the 20 weeks of the two-quarter sequence, so we spend a fair amount of time having students exchange contact information with each other.

    • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

      Seconded on the disrespectful nature of the flippant use of “spirit animal” for a laugh considering it’s a serious religious aspect of Native American culture. I myself didn’t realize this until a Native American friend pointed out that it was quite rude.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Patronus is probably a better choice. Similar concept, but fictional.

  2. A Says:

    When I can, I group their seats in small groups. Somehow that means they introduce themselves to each other, far more than if in rows or a circle. By the time I get there they’re noisily talking and exchanging contact info. Then I ask them to pick something, anything, they want the class to know about them.

  3. CG Says:

    I teach the first class they attend in our graduate program so I ask them to share why they’re here. This year I’m also going to have each of them interview a partner about the partner’s hometown and present it. Then I’ll use that to segue into a discussion of what kinds of information planners need in order to understand a city.

  4. hypatia cade Says:

    I teach at the end of the second year so most of the students know each other and are familiar with me but I don’t know them. I often ask them to share a meaningful clinical experience that they bring to the classroom (since I teach in a clinical training program). In large classes for something quick I’ll sometimes do a would you rather with something that’s fairly culturally accessible in the USA (apple or banana) or how do you eat your oreos etc.

  5. natalieinne Says:

    I teach large (at least for my school – 80 students or so) non-major science classes. I have the students introduce themselves to a neighbor and then the other neighbor and get contact information – bonus if you sat next to someone cute! (That line always gets a laugh.) I try to learn people’s names, although I’m never going to learn 80 students, so I make a seating chart since most everyone sits in the same seat every day. I used to have them just tell me their major, but last year I had them suggest a book I should read. That lead to some great discussions so I’ll be using that to talk to everyone at least once. I just try to get a few students’ names and their suggestions before class starts every day until I’ve covered the whole class.

  6. Anu Says:

    I liked a variant on the 2 truths and lie icebreaker that I encountered recently. You have the class form into small groups (it’s better if assigned randomly) – maybe 4 or 5 people each. Then you ask them to find 2 truths and a lie that apply to the entire group. It really gets people talking since it’s surprisingly difficult to find 2 things that apply to all 4 or 5 people in a group. Then they can share their 2 truths and a lie with the larger group and people try to guess the lie.

  7. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I avoid icebreakers if at all possible, I never appreciated the forced nature of them. As an adult, I might have to come around on that eventually.

  8. C Says:

    In addition to the contact information piece, I have students share in groups about their experience in my field (students take many winding paths towards my classes and often make assumptions about their classmates that are counterproductive to their learning).


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